What I mention in this article is my opinion and thinking out loud. It was prompted by the Synod President’s comments after the same-sex marriage decision of the Supreme Court (see his interview with Issues Etc.). He stated that student loans may become a problem which would greatly affect the Concordia University System. Here is a way around it I offer as merely a starting idea (which would of course require all sorts of expertise to actually make happen). I know many people are tied to their colleges and they have served a good purpose in the past, but if we are looking at losing the whole system, it may behoove us to be forward-thinking enough to prepare to sustain something for the good of the church.
Time to disconnect from the government’s provisions (that money comes with strings attached, and we will see them very clearly in the future). This means likely that we could sustain only one University/Seminary on our own and keep it viable. The solution then is to sell off/rearrange/reallocate the Concordias.
The trick would be to pick which one to keep. An obvious suggestion would be Concordia Austin as it resides in a state that has shown itself more protective of religious freedom than others. Another probable situation would be the Fort Wayne campus, which has room to expand, but also has some stipulations that it reverts back to the original donor if Synod tries to close it down or sell it. (there would be financial gain from selling Austin). There are probably other properties with similar arrangements, but I don’t know of them.
The sell off would be interesting. We have a lot of premium property. There is a lot of money that could be raised for the support of the new single Concordia University and Seminary. This would still be in keeping with the purpose of the Concordias because the goal is to have one that is sustainable without government funding.
The rearrangement of staff could also be good. There have been problems reported from the Concordias in regards to teaching and the need for more Lutheran teachers. A consolidation of universities into one allows for the “cream of the crop” to become the new faculty. Imagine a theology faculty built from the best of the two seminaries and Concordias? Other departments would benefit as well from such a centralization. The result would be a quality Lutheran education taught by outstanding Lutheran teachers no matter what major.
The reallocation is the biggest question mark for me. No doubt, many gifts and endowments have been given to the various Concordias. How they all get moved to the new one is a legal matter I have no expertise over, but someone out there has it, and honestly the point of this article is to get people thinking about how to get “lean and mean” as a Church, starting with one of the areas that will likely be hit first.
Think of other possibilities. The headquarters for the LCMS could also be housed in this new campus, and the current corporate headquarters could be sold and its proceeds could help support the church’s work in the new place.
The changing landscape of American culture should stir us to forward thinking about how to prepare. If we wait to react on many of these kind of things, it will be too late.
This is all just ideas. The Synod Convention is an opportunity for some of these ideas (or others) to be brought forward to be acted on (even if study is necessary as a first step). Please feel free to comment with ideas about the Concordia Universities below.